There are some really one sided views on Vista being spewed here, its amazing. First off no one cares what some rep may or may not have said about Vista, such as "all thier clients hate it" And believe me I am not a huge windows fan, I prefer Linux. I have however been running Vista on my laptop because of school. There are some nice gui additions, the security is not as intrusive as some of the spyware/virus protection software out there which makes that silly Apple commercial a joke.
The performance of 3D games and apps are a little slower than with XP, but XP is also slower than windows98. I would hardly compare Vista to ME, heck I wouldnt compare alot of operating systems to ME, that was the worst piece of shit os out ever in my book. Vista is by far not close to that.
Its a fairly new os, XP had many compatibility, and performance issue when it came out, they were ironed out over time, Vista is no different. In real world use I think it is very stable, I have had only a few minor apps not work, nothing earth shattering.
There are more positives to it than negatives, and IMHO some of the posts I read at the beginning of this are either grossly inaccurate or just being posted by trolls. Its not very contructive or useful information at all.
You get bloatware from every computer manufacturer, I did not find many useless apps when i installed Vista from a retail purchase of it. In the end you can remove any component you think you will not use if you are too worried about it. Non-novice users will be able to slim line the OS using the same techniques from previous os'es (XP/2000) so its a non issue.
Overall its an ok upgrade from XP, but like any newer operating system it needs time to mature, if your XP install is running as you like it, and it is stable, I do not see the need to upgrade unless you are either required to by classes, application requirements, etc. For me it was on sale and I have a course that suggested we get a copy for testing. I personally like it so far.
Just have to wait for some drivers to get tweaked, and apps to be patched.